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Old 27-01-2005, 03:18:37   #1
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Scientists produce Chimeras

Man the possibilities are endless if you are really rich and have a healthy God complex.

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Animal-Human Hybrids Spark Controversy

Maryann Mott
National Geographic News

January 25, 2005
Scientists have begun blurring the line between human and animal by producing chimeras—a hybrid creature that's part human, part animal.

Chinese scientists at the Shanghai Second Medical University in 2003 successfully fused human cells with rabbit eggs. The embryos were reportedly the first human-animal chimeras successfully created. They were allowed to develop for several days in a laboratory dish before the scientists destroyed the embryos to harvest their stem cells.


In Minnesota last year researchers at the Mayo Clinic created pigs with human blood flowing through their bodies.

And at Stanford University in California an experiment might be done later this year to create mice with human brains.

Scientists feel that, the more humanlike the animal, the better research model it makes for testing drugs or possibly growing "spare parts," such as livers, to transplant into humans.

Watching how human cells mature and interact in a living creature may also lead to the discoveries of new medical treatments.

But creating human-animal chimeras—named after a monster in Greek mythology that had a lion's head, goat's body, and serpent's tail—has raised troubling questions: What new subhuman combination should be produced and for what purpose? At what point would it be considered human? And what rights, if any, should it have?

There are currently no U.S. federal laws that address these issues.

Ethical Guidelines

The National Academy of Sciences, which advises the U.S. government, has been studying the issue. In March it plans to present voluntary ethical guidelines for researchers.

A chimera is a mixture of two or more species in one body. Not all are considered troubling, though.

For example, faulty human heart valves are routinely replaced with ones taken from cows and pigs. The surgery—which makes the recipient a human-animal chimera—is widely accepted. And for years scientists have added human genes to bacteria and farm animals.

What's caused the uproar is the mixing of human stem cells with embryonic animals to create new species.

Biotechnology activist Jeremy Rifkin is opposed to crossing species boundaries, because he believes animals have the right to exist without being tampered with or crossed with another species.

He concedes that these studies would lead to some medical breakthroughs. Still, they should not be done.

"There are other ways to advance medicine and human health besides going out into the strange, brave new world of chimeric animals," Rifkin said, adding that sophisticated computer models can substitute for experimentation on live animals.

"One doesn't have to be religious or into animal rights to think this doesn't make sense," he continued. "It's the scientists who want to do this. They've now gone over the edge into the pathological domain."

David Magnus, director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University, believes the real worry is whether or not chimeras will be put to uses that are problematic, risky, or dangerous.

Human Born to Mice Parents?

For example, an experiment that would raise concerns, he said, is genetically engineering mice to produce human sperm and eggs, then doing in vitro fertilization to produce a child whose parents are a pair of mice.

"Most people would find that problematic," Magnus said, "but those uses are bizarre and not, to the best of my knowledge, anything that anybody is remotely contemplating. Most uses of chimeras are actually much more relevant to practical concerns."

Last year Canada passed the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, which bans chimeras. Specifically, it prohibits transferring a nonhuman cell into a human embryo and putting human cells into a nonhuman embryo.

Cynthia Cohen is a member of Canada's Stem Cell Oversight Committee, which oversees research protocols to ensure they are in accordance with the new guidelines.

She believes a ban should also be put into place in the U.S.

Creating chimeras, she said, by mixing human and animal gametes (sperms and eggs) or transferring reproductive cells, diminishes human dignity.

"It would deny that there is something distinctive and valuable about human beings that ought to be honored and protected," said Cohen, who is also the senior research fellow at Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute of Ethics in Washington, D.C.

But, she noted, the wording on such a ban needs to be developed carefully. It shouldn't outlaw ethical and legitimate experiments—such as transferring a limited number of adult human stem cells into animal embryos in order to learn how they proliferate and grow during the prenatal period.

Irv Weissman, director of Stanford University's Institute of Cancer/Stem Cell Biology and Medicine in California, is against a ban in the United States.

"Anybody who puts their own moral guidance in the way of this biomedical science, where they want to impose their will—not just be part of an argument—if that leads to a ban or moratorium. … they are stopping research that would save human lives," he said.

Mice With Human Brains

Weissman has already created mice with brains that are about one percent human.

Later this year he may conduct another experiment where the mice have 100 percent human brains. This would be done, he said, by injecting human neurons into the brains of embryonic mice.

Before being born, the mice would be killed and dissected to see if the architecture of a human brain had formed. If it did, he'd look for traces of human cognitive behavior.

Weissman said he's not a mad scientist trying to create a human in an animal body. He hopes the experiment leads to a better understanding of how the brain works, which would be useful in treating diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

The test has not yet begun. Weissman is waiting to read the National Academy's report, due out in March.

William Cheshire, associate professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic's Jacksonville, Florida, branch, feels that combining human and animal neurons is problematic.

"This is unexplored biologic territory," he said. "Whatever moral threshold of human neural development we might choose to set as the limit for such an experiment, there would be a considerable risk of exceeding that limit before it could be recognized."

Cheshire supports research that combines human and animal cells to study cellular function. As an undergraduate he participated in research that fused human and mouse cells.

But where he draws the ethical line is on research that would destroy a human embryo to obtain cells, or research that would create an organism that is partly human and partly animal.

"We must be cautious not to violate the integrity of humanity or of animal life over which we have a stewardship responsibility," said Cheshire, a member of Christian Medical and Dental Associations. "Research projects that create human-animal chimeras risk disturbing fragile ecosystems, endanger health, and affront species integrity."

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Old 27-01-2005, 06:27:02   #2
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What if a hybrid enabled a new (to humans) disease to jump the species barrier?

I don't think these guys are making decisions for just themselves and the odd lab rat.
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Old 27-01-2005, 08:35:09   #3
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Another gung ho group ? Well at least tthey didn't let them mature, although I'm unsure what you do with chimera stem cells. Not just for the odd lab rat eh ? Echos of the GM argument.

Hmmm too long to read in full now, but ...


For example, faulty human heart valves are routinely replaced with ones taken from cows and pigs.

That's something I wasn't aware of. Widely accepted ? More like widely unaware. It too could cause diseases to jump species surely ?
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Old 27-01-2005, 08:58:20   #4
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Hard to tell, but are you for or against Mr. Frankenstein being free to create whatever suits his fancy?
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Old 27-01-2005, 09:12:43   #5
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Originally posted by Gary
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That's something I wasn't aware of. Widely accepted ? More like widely unaware. It too could cause diseases to jump species surely ?
Yeah, widely accepted and widely used.

They were looking into using pigs with modified DNA so that people could grow replacement organs in them - either as spares or as transplants. Great idea I think but do you eat the pig afterwards?
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Old 27-01-2005, 09:22:09   #6
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Prolly not if you live in Damascus.
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Old 27-01-2005, 09:33:50   #7
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Who would have predicted that eating the brains of a human, or a cow, could result in a maybe not so speedy, but very unpleasant death for the connoisseur?

But, we're supposed to just relax and trust that all the human-rabbit hybrids are scraped off the petrie dish, and nothing ever goes wrong. Is that it?

We're screwing with bad mojo, and we need strict controls on who does the screwing and what they screw with. That is my opinion.
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Old 27-01-2005, 09:36:44   #8
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I agree that we should be very careful.

That doesn't necessarily mean we shouldn't do it. As well as the dangers there are potentially some amazing rewards.
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Old 27-01-2005, 09:40:55   #9
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I'm not saying don't do any of it, but when some freekenstein proposes growing human brain cells in animals, my sci-fi scense goes off the richter scale.

It needs to be controlled, and not just any Johnny come Frankenstein should be enabled to do it.

It might be British regulations, or American, or Brazilian but the entire world may pay the price for a fuck up.
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Old 27-01-2005, 09:45:30   #10
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Yes, I think there are several people trying to set world standards for this kind of research... as yet unsuccessful, but we do need to do that.
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Old 27-01-2005, 09:58:30   #11
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Well, here we are. 100 years ago chemistry was barely a science. Today we have 1000's of throw offs from GenSci programes cooking up chemicals in bath tubs to make drugs for profit.

A hundred years from now? The GenSci drop-out creates an organism. Only, with chemicals it's a choice if you take it. Organisms have a way of spreading themselves in a somewhat more determined way.

Oh hell, I should open a book on the end of the world. $5 says modern civilization doesn't make it 200 years. The wickets are open, but you have to pay in advance.
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Old 27-01-2005, 11:26:28   #12
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an experiment might be done later this year to create mice with human brains.
What the fuck? Is it me or is that a twilight zone storyline?
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Old 27-01-2005, 11:28:19   #13
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Old 27-01-2005, 11:28:35   #14
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based on my experiences, there are already many humans in the world who have been bred with mice brains
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Old 27-01-2005, 11:39:02   #15
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"For example, faulty human heart valves are routinely replaced with ones taken from cows and pigs. "

Mine has been working quite well for the last 4 to 5 years..
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Old 27-01-2005, 11:40:26   #16
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cow or pig?
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Old 27-01-2005, 11:56:37   #17
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Before being born, the mice would be killed and dissected to see if the architecture of a human brain had formed. If it did, he'd look for traces of human cognitive behavior.
Look for behavior..... in the dissected mice????

anyway, that's nothing new
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Weissman said he's not a mad scientist trying to create a human in an animal body.
yeah, "Weissman", or....
http://www.respectstartstomorrow.com...i/MoreauIsland
http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue01/reviews/moreau.htm
http://actionvault.ign.com/features/...ctorisle.shtml
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Old 27-01-2005, 11:58:36   #18
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William Cheshire, [...] branch, feels that combining human and animal neurons is problematic.
he must be mad!
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Old 27-01-2005, 12:06:01   #19
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What the fuck? Is it me or is that a twilight zone storyline?
According to Douglas Adams, that is a serious step down for them.

And nye, stop being sensationalist and put some proper science in there...
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Old 27-01-2005, 12:49:42   #20
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Re: Pig organ transplants - one of the concerns is transfer of pig viruses to humans - my favorite are the Pig/porcine endogenous retroviruses, or PERVs, which are harmless in pigs but could have unforseen consequences in humans.

We've had mice with human immune systems for years. They just aren't created at the embryo stage.
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Old 27-01-2005, 13:09:21   #21
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Hard to tell, but are you for or against Mr. Frankenstein being free to create whatever suits his fancy?
I'm for keeping this sort of stuff in the lab, and letting the public know exactly what is going on so it can be debated. And I can not believe that I am the only one who is unaware that animal organs are routinely transplanted into humans. Sure I've read pop sci stories about experiments, but I recall nothing further. I suspect many may be in the same situation.
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Old 27-01-2005, 13:21:06   #22
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Originally posted by chagarra
"For example, faulty human heart valves are routinely replaced with ones taken from cows and pigs. "

Mine has been working quite well for the last 4 to 5 years..
my geometry teacher in high school had a mechanical one - you could hear it *click* sometimes.
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Old 27-01-2005, 13:47:10   #23
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I'm for keeping this sort of stuff in the lab, and letting the public know exactly what is going on so it can be debated. And I can not believe that I am the only one who is unaware that animal organs are routinely transplanted into humans. Sure I've read pop sci stories about experiments, but I recall nothing further. I suspect many may be in the same situation.
They've been around at least 20 years. I knew about them. And its not a organ it's tissue.
I've been looking for exact dates but so far all I've found is that people have lived over 20 years without failure of said valve.
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Old 27-01-2005, 13:50:50   #24
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Scarey.
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Old 27-01-2005, 13:57:32   #25
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Useful medical breakthrough.
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Old 27-01-2005, 14:02:48   #26
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Also scary, but somewhat related. Not as much of a concern with organ/tissue transplants as with food and drug industry.

"Prions discovered in unexpected organs"

http://www.nature.com/news/2005/0501...050117-11.html
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Old 27-01-2005, 20:07:28   #27
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i think its wrong to treat animals, who are sentient beings, as though they are merely convenient vessels for our spare parts. Its also wrong to mix animal and human- we are distinct species and should be kept distinct unless we want to live in a Victorian freak show.
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Old 27-01-2005, 20:26:04   #28
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Is that comment aimed at chagarra?
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Old 27-01-2005, 20:33:24   #29
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Hopefully it was simply due to poor skim-reading of the thread.
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Old 27-01-2005, 21:56:37   #30
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i think its wrong to treat animals, who are sentient beings, as though they are merely convenient vessels for our spare parts. Its also wrong to mix animal and human- we are distinct species and should be kept distinct unless we want to live in a Victorian freak show.
I understand the sentiment, but I don't agree. We also harvest human cadavers for spare parts, if its good enough for us, I think its good enough for the animals.

Millions of animals are killed every year for food, it wouldn't make sense to avoid using other parts of them.
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Old 27-01-2005, 22:00:30   #31
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i think its wrong to treat animals, who are sentient beings, as though they are merely convenient vessels for our spare parts. Its also wrong to mix animal and human- we are distinct species and should be kept distinct unless we want to live in a Victorian freak show.
Definitely an arts student...lots of comments about the apparent 'ickiness' but why? Animals are convenient vessels for our spare parts. You can grow a pig in a couple of years to be fully grown - you can't do that with a 'spare human'. They are very convenient vessels for meat too. Mmmmm...
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Old 28-01-2005, 00:10:56   #32
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And at Stanford University in California an experiment might be done later this year to create mice with human brains.
Homage to Douglas Adams and Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy?
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Old 28-01-2005, 00:14:25   #33
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No way. They were hyper-intellegent pan-dimensional beings that manifested in our dimension as mice, not mice with human brains.
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Old 28-01-2005, 00:24:16   #34
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So... are the Furries already queueing up, ordering their female half human-half feline pets already?

I can see where being a company who owns the mice that were used to create the sperm and ova of humans would be highly convinent. Be easy to get the results classified as non-human. And if its non-human, then it's property. Or, go the other routes to the same results. If you can get a reasonably close "human" brain in animals, that lets you have all sorts of ownable, trainable smart beings.

The dangers are significant. I doubt the rewards will be as high. They usually aren't, in comparison. However, if you don't end up with Alzhiemers when you are 70, I suppose you'd think it was worthwhile to having wild dog packs that are smart as humans hunting throughout the world's urban areas. Easy pickens...

Note, I am tweaking the SF Horror aspects a touch.

And there is already "chimera" aren't they? Its a common term used to refer to those odd things that are somewhere between plant and animal in biology?
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Old 28-01-2005, 00:29:13   #35
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So you forsee an army of clever pigs?

Do you really think there are evil scientists cackling away to themselves working towards a mouse that can play chess and prefers stilton to cheddar? Aren't they doing research for the greater good?
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Old 28-01-2005, 00:50:36   #36
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Research for the greater good? Oh please! Research for the greater profit, I'll believe. It's a greedy, self-centered, capitalistic world.

Actually, I didn't foresee anything on this. However, there are plenty who have. The SF crowd tends to eat up such things. We can probably dredge up a good short lists of tales that aren't to whacked out to demonstrate certain points.

Think about it... where do you define something is human? It's going to be whatever is convinent for the market, not what is in the beings personal interest. We don't even recognise that humans are always "human" with the same rights as we are. Make it something that is 100 percent body human, but a mind of smart dog, and who is going to defend their human rights? They just "look" it, but they don't have the brain power, after all.

Again, there's literally thousands of potential markets. If they can make it work. I think that's a big if, actually.
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Old 28-01-2005, 01:21:32   #37
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I still don't understand your problem with it. You can theorise all you like about whether a dog with a man's brain or a giant octopus with a man's cock is going to have equal rights but it ain't going to happen. That's for sci fi geeks and christians to worry about. Maybe before they manage to put a halt to all progress someone will use this technology to find a way of reversing heart or brain damage or further understanding and curing cancer.

People just get all freaked out by progress and they think it's against god's will.
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Old 28-01-2005, 02:13:19   #38
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I consider the 'God's will' argument to be the most bullshit one available. If someone objected to me doing something because it was not 'God's will', it is more than likely going to encourage me to do it even more
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Old 28-01-2005, 02:17:04   #39
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Exactly. The other one is "it's against nature". People have been saying that about homosexuality, flight, condoms, cosmetic surgery and space travel for years.
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Old 28-01-2005, 02:29:55   #40
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Old 28-01-2005, 02:34:15   #41
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Research for the greater good? Oh please! Research for the greater profit, I'll believe. It's a greedy, self-centered, capitalistic world.
Yes, because everything is evil if you make money off of it. Kind of like how it's selfish to give things to other people if it makes you feel good about youself.

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Old 28-01-2005, 02:34:29   #42
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Probably the easiest way to make you a centaur would involve some rather extreme surgery rather than any cellular genetic manipluation.
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Old 28-01-2005, 03:18:07   #43
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Sir Penguin, what about the orphan drugs we have now? The drugs that do cure diseases, but the drug manufacturers won't distribute them because there isn't enough money on it. Obviously, money is a big deal in this world.

Hell, its because of money that we don't just make all the food for the world and distribute it for free. We could. We can feed the entire world. But it isn't going to happen. We only feed those that can pay for it, and let the rest of the food rot in the fields or in storage.

I'm not against making a buck. But I recognize that the desire to have enough money to "get stuff" drives selfish behavior. We aren't living on the moon today. Why not? Cause they haven't been able to figure out how to make enough money off the deal. That's why we are stuck going at a snails pace in that field. Same as in most things.
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Old 28-01-2005, 03:24:06   #44
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Those drugs are not relevant to the discussion. If something will have a net positive benefit on the world, that is what should be focused on, not the fact that it turns a profit for the people who develop it.

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Old 28-01-2005, 03:29:19   #45
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Protein, as I said... I don't think it will happen. But... people once thought that no one would ever fly. Or be able to breath water and live. Both have happened. So, is it a waste of time to consider just two "ifs" from now?

I don't think we are going to learn very much from this. These things never meet their potentional. But its nice to let our imaginations wander over the nice things. It doesn't hurt to look ahead, just a turn or two. If things work out... That's one of the advantages to being a big brained primate. We can try to plan ahead.
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Old 28-01-2005, 06:18:51   #46
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MoSe..

An Edwards Bovine Pericardial..

Now you can prove I talk bull....
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Old 28-01-2005, 09:34:17   #47
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If God had meant us to fly, or create human animal hybrids, he'd have given us advanced brains capable of developing the scientific theories and techniques required and extremely nimble hands so that we could build the complex tools and machines we'd require to do so.

And if a cow can save someones life with a heart valve (and also make some nice steak, a few burgers and a few pairs of shoes) then that's fantastic.
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Old 28-01-2005, 09:35:40   #48
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Damn right. As long as we don't all die from it.

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Old 28-01-2005, 09:51:52   #49
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sir Penguin
As long as we don't all die from it.

SP
... and there's the operative phrase.

This isn't rocketry, where in 1910 people would have thought you a loon for saying that men would one day stand on the moon, but not much harm could come from the attempt.

This is biology, where a helluva lot of human destruction could be wrought by a fuck up.

Oh, and PH, you have too much faith in science and are too blind to the humans involved and their ability to make huge mistakes.
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Old 28-01-2005, 09:56:47   #50
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I can't seriously believe that educated, informed people would not be scared shitless by this stuff. The power of the atom was supposed to be a boon to mankind. What did men do? Turned it into the ultimate destructive weapon, that's what.

Tell me, are biolabs as easy to detect and regulate as nuclear reactors?

You think there isn't going to be some private or government nutter come along in the next few centuries? What planet's history are you familiar with, and is the sky there blue?
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